What’s arguably the most unpleasant situation you could find yourself in at work? No, it’s not your boss catching you drop the “f” bomb when you think they’re not looking. Albeit, that would be extremely uncomfortable. Workplace termination, however, is usually a top fear of most employees and even managers or HR professionals. Having to fire someone or being fired is never fun and sometimes, these face-to-face conversations can become a little less than peaceful. 

Offboarding isn’t delivered with the same enthusiasm as onboarding and for obvious reasons, often falls to the wayside as termination discussions become heated or lack dignity. No one likes to be “let go,” “terminated,” or “relieved” of the duties they believed to have performed so diligently, and no manager or HR pro likes to break such bad news to someone they’ve spent so much time with. There are two sides to every coin, just as there are two perspectives on every situation. In the case of termination, you have the side of the people leader and the employee who can both handle things as calmy as possible. 

From the people perspective 

  • Ask for specific feedback: Take the opportunity to learn where you have room for improvement as an employee. Honest feedback can be applied to your personal and professional growth and can take you further in your next venture. It could also be the closure you’re looking for, as well. 
  • Know your rights: It’s important that you make sure everything is in order from a legal standpoint. Politely ask questions regarding your rights and whether you’re obligated to certain financial or professional loyalties, and retrieve the necessary paperwork for your home files, too. 
  • Try not to take it personally: We know it can be hard not to take termination personally, but it really is just business. But remember, sometimes being relieved of a job can be a blessing in disguise – it just wasn’t the right fit and you deserve to follow a career path that’s perfect for you long term and makes you truly happy.

From the leader perspective

  • Don’t forget to offboard properly: In terms of employer branding and the employee experience, you want to pay attention to offboarding. Treat the person you’re terminating with respect, financially and legally, and make sure to apply their feedback to the company or management where necessary. Here, you’ll want to coordinate with HR and take advantage of any tech tools that can enhance the offboarding process. 
  • Remain a people person: Remember, the person you’re letting go of is still an individual with fears and feelings, who might be getting worked up at the time of their termination. Allow them to keep their dignity by treating them with transparency, avoiding harsh criticism when you can be constructive instead. We recommend consulting with HR on using proper language and giving feedback; they could even mediate, also! 
  • Offer fair packages: Be fair when terminating an employee, regardless of the length of their lifecycle. Offer them severance or separation packages that make their transition into unemployment easier, smoother, or just simply less scary. Even HR will agree, it’s the right thing to do. And, your talent pros will be able to confirm and guide you regarding any legalities or obligations you have to the individual. 

It can be difficult to advise those facing termination to look at it as a learning experience and understand that it’s nothing personal. If you’re the one terminating someone else, regard a sense of empathy and grant them their dignity. The termination process, from start to finish, is an uncomfortable one. But, by ensuring that said termination follows a professional and business-like etiquette, that prioritizes offboarding in an efficient manner, peaceful terminations are more than possible.  


from Stephanie Stevens

Stephanie is Content Marketer at Hibob. She has a background in Clinical Psychology and Crisis Management, and enjoys abstract painting and watching horror films in her spare time. She believes that people can connect with themselves, their peers, and the world around them through creative writing, helping them foster a deeper sense of self and their life goals in the process.